Friday, May 27, 2016

The Kindle Revolution's dark underbelly

Magician of the first category is #923 in Paid Kindle store right now. It's a self-published book by a Russian author. For all I know it's a great story; but as a book it is a total failure. Here is some actual text from the first page:

"What we are all potential war criminals and we cry a military tribunal. Therefore, the only way for us to remain silent in a rag, and pretend to be rags. This manual arguments. On our side, n rivodilis following arguments. In the first place, but we are on the drum."

Dropping foreign texts into Google translate does not count as publishing, self- or otherwise. This kind of nonsense clogs the channel; it's like turning on a faucet and getting muddy water. It just puts people off the whole reading thing. The fact that this book is higher on the Paid Kindle list than any of my books ever have or will be is, I think, a sign that there is something seriously wrong with the ranking system. I mean, say what you will about my writing, but at least it's in English.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Englishman in Kansas

A most extraordinary text, and this only in the editor's foreward, discussing the nature of the South and its peculiar institution:

I have seen a girl, twelve years old, in a district where, in ten miles, the slave population was fifty to one of the free, stop an old man on the public road, demand to know where he was going, and by what authority, order him to face about and return to his plantation; and enforce her command with turbulent anger, when he hesitated, by threatening that she would him well whipped if he did not instantly obey. The man quailed like a spaniel, and she instantly resumed the manner of a lovely child with me, no more apprehending that she had acted unbecomingly than that her character had been influence by the slave's submission to her caprice of supremacy; no more conscious that she had increased the security of her life by strengthening the habit of the slave to the master race, than is the sleeping seaman that he tightens his clutch of the rigging as the ship meets each new billow.

I do not think I could write such an incident in my fiction, and get away with it. No one would credit it.

The foreward is about the effect the South's reliance upon instant and savage violence has upon its people. living as they did in a permanent "state of siege." I cannot help but see the echo of "a good man with a gun," and this sense that everyone, everywhere must be always armed and prepared to engage the enemy, whether they be thugs, terrorists, or the walking dead.

And this phrase, from later on: "an idolatrous estimate of the virtue of physical courage." Does anything better describe "a good man with a gun?"